MANILA, Philippines — Brandon Lee, the journalist and human rights activist shot and seriously injured by unidentified assailants in front of his home in Lagawe, Ifugao Tuesday night is being surveilled at the Baguio General Hospital, the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) said.
“Security guards at the hospital alerted us that a certain George Malidow of the [AFP], introducing himself as from Camp Henry Allen in Baguio, was asking for details about Brandon’s case,” the CHRA said in its alert.
“This was brought to our attention as this is not regular protocol for the AFP to be monitoring and investigating such case,” the group added.
Camp Allen is a military camp in the heart of the Cordilleran capital that once served as the site of the Philippine Military Academy.
Hospitals, meanwhile, are designated neutral zones by human rights statutes and local and international humanitarian organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross/Crescent.
Lee was brought to Baguio last night from Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya after being initially brought to a local hospital in Lagawe after the attack.
The CHRA said Lee is conscious and able to talk but is in need of type O+ blood donations.
He suffered four gunshot wounds on his torso, reports said.
Lee is a United States citizen, married to a Filipino and a permanent resident of the Philippines. They have a seven-year old daughter.
Lee, a red-tagging victim of the AFP since 2015, is the Ifugao provincial correspondent of the Baguio-based media outfit Northern Dispatch.
He is also a paralegal of the CHRA, the Ifugao Peasant Movement and the Justice and Peace Advocates of Ifugao, all of which have reported threats and harassments by members of the 54th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army for weeks prior to the attack.
The soldiers gathered data by interrogating and intimidating the organizations’ members and staff, the CHRA reported after Lee’s shooting.
The Philippine Army team was headed by a certain 1Lt Karol Jay R. Mendoza while its Civil-Military Operations head is a certain Lt.Col. Narciso B. Nabulneg, Jr. who both invoked President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 70 in their interrogations, the group added.
Duterte’s EO 70 issued last December created a task force to combat insurgency that human rights organizations blame for the killing of activists across the country.
Meanwhile, Bayan Muna Reps. Eufemia Cullamat and Carlos Isagani Zarate today strongly condemned the attack against Lee, who they describe as “one of the noted volunteers of the Ifugao Peasant Movement and well-loved by the peasant and indigenous peoples in the Cordillera.”
“It seems like that the dark army and mad dogs of the government that are responsible for the killings of thousands in the anti-drug campaign are now after activists, people’s lawyers, community organizers, and other human rights workers,” Zarate said in a statement.
“Brandon Lee’s assasination attempt is revealing of the type of government that we have when it threatens death to people like him, who serves the poor peasant and indigenous peoples so selflessly. We should not allow this to continue. This madness must stop and should be investigated promptly, and the perpetrators be brought to justice,” the House Deputy Minority Leader said.
The Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) for its part said it holds State security forces that the Duterte administration has let loose in the Cordillera region – the 54th IBPA, the 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army and the Northern Luzon Command—acountable for the attack.
‘We urgently call on the people to voice out your concern and call for justice for Brandon and other human rights violations victims. The attacks on human rights defenders must end,” the CPA said.
The group announced it will hold a social media rally on Twitter and Facebook for Lee at five to eight o’clock Wednesday evening using the hashtags #Justice4BrandonLee and #StoptheAttacks.